Recipe: Best Damn Mashed Potatoes (Gluten-Free + Vegan)

Thanksgiving or, as we call it in my family, Franksgriffin, is comin’ in hot. We call it Franksgriffin cause one time we heard someone bungle “Thanksgiving” on live TV, or something, and then it just stuck. That was probably ten years ago.

Anyway! What’s an autumnal family and/or friends gathering without some stellar mashed potatoes?

please pardon unrelated olive oil spill

Ingredients

~8 gold potatoes
1 1/2 t sea salt, divided
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
dash of olive oil
4 T vegan butter (I like organic Earth Balance)
1/2 t black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 c fresh chives, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with water. Bring to light boil over medium-high and add 1 t sea salt.
  2. Cover and cook for about 25 minutes, or until a butter knife slides easily in and out of center of a potato.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, sauté garlic in olive oil for about three minutes.
  4. Drain potatoes and place back in the hot pot, off heat, for one minute to evaporate any additional water.
  5. Careful not to over-mix, mash potatoes with a masher.
  6. Add butter, sautéd garlic, remaining sea salt, and black pepper and stir to combine. Taste potatoes and adjust as needed.
  7. Last, stir in chives.

Serves four.

Leftovers can be refrigerated for a few days. To reheat, put potatoes and a dash of vegetarian milk in a small pot on the stove over low. Stir until heated through.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 10/10
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: 8/10

I like my recipe better. There should be half a stick of salted butter for every potato.

Rick, a person who isn’t joking

Adapted from The Best Damn Vegan Mashed Potatoes.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie
Recipe: Twice-Baked Potato Skins with Cheese Sauce
Recipe: Roasted Artichokes


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know.

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Mental Health: Productivity

When I’m feeling the way I described last week, essentially disheartened because I’m perpetually at the mercy of the whims of my brain, it’s hard to remember good days.

On Sunday, I absolutely smashed it. I went through all my emails and took care of items in both my digital and physical “action required” folders. I paid several bills online, completed and mailed the required jury duty info update, updated insurance on file in various medical offices, filed or shredded things that needed to be, did yoga, followed up on healthcare claims, made plans w both family and a friend for later in the week (big for me), began preparing for a writer’s conference I’m attending in early December, reconciled something fraudulent with the bank, cooked, cleaned, wrote, and read. Then, on Monday, my writing was workshopped at school and a clear image of how my book is going to take shape began in my mind and on the page. For a long time everything I’ve wanted to put in this book has been floating around in my head like space debris, disconnected, disorganized, and banging into each other without making sense.

These two days were huge. Yuuuge.

Some days, when I can’t get out of bed or my head, when depression is lying to me, productive days are hard to remember. I am so Type A that the stagnation inherent to blue days make me feel helpless, even useless. I’m writing this post because the often erratic appearance of productivity is a part of mental illness. I don’t like being wagged around by my brain, but I’ll take a W where I can, and the past two days were, in general, Ws.

I encourage those living w mental illness to scribble down a good day, experience, or interaction in a small notebook or in the notes on your phone so you can reflect on it later. I try to do the same thing when people write kind things to me – keep it all in one place so I can remind myself that I’m not a human trash can even though I feel like one sometimes. Make that investment in your future self, and pack that extra lifejacket when you’re feeling well. If you know your mind, you know you’re gonna need those words down the road. Mental illness or not, it never hurts to remind yourself that you’re not so bad, after all.

Written on Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Disoriented
Mental Health: In Motion
Mental Health: Finding the Glow


Do you love Bummed Out Baker as much as I love creating it? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more than you’ll ever know.

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: Spiral

Please know that before I get on Bummed Out Baker to write I always prioritize working with my family and psychiatrist to stabilize myself. I wouldn’t be on here if I hadn’t first confirmed my safety.


I started feeling blue yesterday. I was up most of the night before unable to sleep and, after a full morning and early afternoon, I took a three hour nap. I almost always get into a funk if I sleep for that long mid-day, but it’s either that and hopefully salvage some quality work time in the evening or doing weird, unproductive things all day due to exhaustion. When I’m under-slept I operate like I’m drunk. There’s really not a stellar option available to me in these circumstances.

The blueness carried over to today. I got on the yoga mat – I challenge myself to not let more than two days go by without yoga so I don’t accidentally let the habit slip away from me. Today was day three, so I knew I needed to do it. Of course, exercise is also one of the boxes I try to check off when I’m trying to resolve a bout of depression, but as anyone with major depressive disorder knows, it’s not always so easy.

In the yoga intro Adriene said that that practice was for if you feel “meh” physically or emotionally. At the end, in child’s pose, she said “hopefully you feel a little better,” but I didn’t. In that moment I got more introspective and upset. What’s it like to not be at the mercy of your erratic feelings? What’s it like to be steady, the same person every day, without the hindrance of mental illness? What’s it like to be able to maintain productivity without having dips in your mood, effecting your work output and the quality of interactions with loved ones? I became disheartened. I became nauseous.

I have these days where, inside my head, I lament the idea that I will be like this for the rest of my life. Some days, it’s hard to stay positive. It’s hard to go through the reparative motions over and over, to explain to my spouse and friends that I’m not my best self that day and “maybe next time.” It’s hard to apologize for something I can’t help, and it’s hard to forgive myself for the same.

I sleep a lot because I don’t like being conscious. I like “going away.” When I’m asleep I’m not having or not having a “blue day,” I just am. I’m not disappointing anyone or myself, and I’m not getting lost in a spiral of devastation, knowing I will always be at the mercy of my brain. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be able to take it for the rest of my life.

Sometimes, I just spiral.

Written Saturday, October 26, 2019.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: No, You Don’t “Have Anxiety”
Mental Health: Weigh Gain and Mental Medications
Mental Health: In Motion

Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more than you’ll ever know.

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Recipe: Chili (Gluten-Free + Vegan)

Whenever you think of chili do you also think of this v avant garde, ahead of its time video where the guy talks about how he never liked chili?

Either way, welcome to the chili recipe post.

the sun got really aggressive here

I like chili, but if you don’t, this recipe truly might change your mind. It’s perfect for cold months, the fall, football season, vegetarians, or meat eaters trying to pare down on meat consumption without sacrificing a taste they’re accustomed to.

Ingredients

3 packages Hilary’s Organic Spicy Veggie Sausage (or ~20 oz vegetarian meat crumbles)
1 T olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 t ground cumin
2 T dried oregano
1 T sea salt
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, deseeded* and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 4 oz cans chopped green chili peppers, drained
3 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
1/4 c chili powder
1 T ground black pepper
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
2 c frozen corn (or 1 15 oz can whole kernel corn)

*Make sure to deseed your jalapeños. If you don’t, the whole pot will be inedible due to your mouth being on fire. I’ve done the legwork :(

Instructions

  1. In a skillet, cook veggie sausages according to package instructions. When done, set aside to cool.
  2. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.
  3. Stir in the onion, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and sea salt, cooking until onion is tender.
  4. Mix in celery, bell peppers, jalapeños, garlic, and green chilis. While vegetables are heating through, crumble sausage patties with hands.
  5. Mix in sausage crumbles, reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer mixture five minutes.
  6. After crushing the tomatoes with your hands, which is both cool and gross, mix them into the pot. Stir in chili powder, pepper, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. Bring chili to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.
  7. Finally, stir in corn and continue cooking for five minutes before serving.
  8. For a fabulous flavor profile that mixes spicy and sweet, serve over this cornbread casserole!

Serves like, 14. For real.

Freeze leftovers in 1-2 serving size portions and move from freezer to fridge one day before you’d like to eat it. Reheat on stove, adding a dash of water if chili is looking a little dry.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 9/10
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: 7.5/10

It was good. I don’t like celery.

Rick

Adapted from The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Pumpkin Spice Creamer (Gluten-Free + Paleo + Vegan)
Sloppy Joes (Vegan)
Why Do I Eat This Way?


Do you love Bummed Out Baker as much as I love creating it? Want to help keep it going? Support here.

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: Disoriented

Last night, following her reading, I saw a writer get interviewed about her process. She said that a challenge of her latest book is that she was living it while she was writing it (menopause). However, she felt that that created an energy in the writing the reader could sense.

When I graduate in May, my thesis will be about mental illness in my family as it pertains to me, my brothers, and our relationships. In regards to my experience with one of my brothers, Alex, I am living it in real time. This means I have little time to digest what’s happened before I’ve got to get it on paper, effective, meaningful, and perhaps resolved in some way. The process itself is dizzying and disorients me, but the idea of energy coming off the prose is something I hope readers can feel, at least. I gotta get somethin’ outta this gig! Lol.

I’ve still got to find the right balance between revelation, contemplation, and privacy, though, as I don’t ever want my writing itself to deter any progress, especially regarding Alex. I talked with him a few days ago, the first time in a month, and all of the poetic sadness I’d painted around him the last three and a half years evaporated in one conversation.

I don’t know what conclusion I imagined after all of this with Alex. Maybe death? Just enough time has passed that I’ve lost sight of who my brother is when not using heroin, but I got a taste a few days ago. Detox is supposed to be rapturous, epiphany-inducing! Instead he seems to have returned to the same flighty, obstinate person I’ve always known. What’s worse? Going through something horrific and coming out, unchanged? Or, just never changing while living a fairly event-less life? I’d argue the former since there is so much hope wrapped up and hidden inside of horrific circumstance.

I’m exhausted.

It’s as if everything I’ve written about Alex the past three years has lost all soul. What happens when there is no hope at the core, after all? That when the terrible things peel off and the center is revealed, there’s just nothing there? It’s like I’ve been carrying around an enormous owl pellet, disgusting and crawling with things I don’t want to think about, because I know there’s a ruby at the center of it that will reveal itself with time. Instead all there is inside is exactly what’s on the outside.

It seems I’ve been carrying around something repulsive and heavy for no reason at all.

Written on Thursday, October 24, 2019.

Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
The Aftermath of the Birthday Hullabaloo
The Uncertainty of Mental Illness
Mental Health: A Regular Ole Tuesday


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support me here.

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.